Posts Tagged ‘Technocrats’

New York Times:

ON a Tuesday evening this spring, Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google, became part man and part machine. About 40 people, all gathered here at a NASA campus for a nine-day, $15,000 course at Singularity University, saw it happen.

While the flesh-and-blood version of Mr. Brin sat miles away at a computer capable of remotely steering a robot, the gizmo rolling around here consisted of a printer-size base with wheels attached to a boxy, head-height screen glowing with an image of Mr. Brin’s face. The BrinBot obeyed its human commander and sputtered around from group to group, talking to attendees about Google and other topics via a videoconferencing system.

The BrinBot was hardly something out of “Star Trek.” It had a rudimentary, no-frills design and was a hodgepodge of loosely integrated technologies. Yet it also smacked of a future that the Singularity University founders hold dear and often discuss with a techno-utopian bravado: the arrival of the Singularity — a time, possibly just a couple decades from now, when a superior intelligence will dominate and life will take on an altered form that we can’t predict or comprehend in our current, limited state.

At that point, the Singularity holds, human beings and machines will so effortlessly and elegantly merge that poor health, the ravages of old age and even death itself will all be things of the past.

Some of Silicon Valley’s smartest and wealthiest people have embraced the Singularity. They believe that technology may be the only way to solve the world’s ills, while also allowing people to seize control of the evolutionary process. For those who haven’t noticed, the Valley’s most-celebrated company — Google — works daily on building a giant brain that harnesses the thinking power of humans in order to surpass the thinking power of humans.

Larry Page, Google’s other co-founder, helped set up Singularity University in 2008, and the company has supported it with more than $250,000 in donations. Some of Google’s earliest employees are, thanks to personal donations of $100,000 each, among the university’s “founding circle.” (Mr. Page did not respond to interview requests.)

The university represents the more concrete side of the Singularity, and focuses on introducing entrepreneurs to promising technologies. Hundreds of students worldwide apply to snare one of 80 available spots in a separate 10-week “graduate” course that costs $25,000. Chief executives, inventors, doctors and investors jockey for admission to the more intimate, nine-day courses called executive programs.

Both courses include face time with leading thinkers in the areas of nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, energy, biotech, robotics and computing.

On a more millennialist and provocative note, the Singularity also offers a modern-day, quasi-religious answer to the Fountain of Youth by affirming the notion that, yes indeed, humans — or at least something derived from them — can have it all.

“We will transcend all of the limitations of our biology,” says Raymond Kurzweil, the inventor and businessman who is the Singularity’s most ubiquitous spokesman and boasts that he intends to live for hundreds of years and resurrect the dead, including his own father. “That is what it means to be human — to extend who we are.”

But, of course, one person’s utopia is another person’s dystopia.

In the years since the Unabomber, Theodore J. Kaczynski, violently inveighed against the predations of technology, plenty of other more sober and sophisticated warnings have arrived. There are camps of environmentalists who decry efforts to manipulate nature, challenges from religious groups that see the Singularity as a version of “Frankenstein” in which people play at being gods, and technologists who fear a runaway artificial intelligence that subjugates humans.

A popular network television show, “Fringe,” playfully explores some of these concerns by featuring a mad scientist and a team of federal agents investigating crimes related to the Pattern — an influx of threatening events caused by out-of-control technology like computer programs that melt brains and genetically engineered chimeras that go on killing sprees.

Some of the Singularity’s adherents portray a future where humans break off into two species: the Haves, who have superior intelligence and can live for hundreds of years, and the Have-Nots, who are hampered by their antiquated, corporeal forms and beliefs.

Of course, some people will opt for inadequacy, while others will have inadequacy thrust upon them. Critics find such scenarios unnerving because the keys to the next phase of evolution may be beyond the grasp of most people.

“The Singularity is not the great vision for society that Lenin had or Milton Friedman might have,” says Andrew Orlowski, a British journalist who has written extensively on techno-utopianism. “It is rich people building a lifeboat and getting off the ship.”

Peter A. Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and a major investor in Facebook, is a Singularity devotee who offers a “Singularity or bust” scenario.

“It may not happen, but there are a lot of technologies that need to be developed for a whole series of problems to be solved,” he says. “I think there is no good future in which it doesn’t happen.”

‘Transcendent Man’

In late August, Mr. Kurzweil will begin a cross-country multimedia road show to promote “Transcendent Man,” a documentary about his life and beliefs. Another of his projects, “The Singularity Is Near: A True Story About the Future,” has also started to make its way around the film festival circuit.

Throughout “Transcendent Man,” Mr. Kurzweil is presented almost as a mystic, sitting in a chair with a shimmering, circular light floating around his head as he explains his philosophy’s basic tenets. During one scene at a beach, he is asked what he’s thinking as he stares out at a beautiful sunset with waves rolling in and wind tussling his hair.

“Well, I was thinking about how much computation is represented by the ocean,” he replies. “I mean, it’s all these water molecules interacting with each other. That’s computation.”

Mr. Kurzweil is the writer, producer and co-director of “The Singularity Is Near,” the tale of Ramona, a virtual being he builds that gradually becomes more human, battles hordes of microscopic robots and taps the lawyer Alan M. Dershowitz for legal advice and the motivational guru Tony Robbins for guidance on personal interactions.

With his glasses, receding hairline and lecturer’s ease, Mr. Kurzweil, 62, seems more professor than thespian. His films are just another facet of the Kurzweil franchise, which includes best-selling books, lucrative speaking engagements, blockbuster inventions and a line of health supplements called Ray & Terry’s (developed with the physician Terry Grossman).

Mr. Kurzweil credits a low-fat, vegetable-rich diet and regular exercise for his trim frame, and says he conquered diabetes decades ago by changing what he ate and later reprogramming his body with supplements. He currently takes about 150 pills a day and has regular intravenous procedures. He is also co-writer of a pair of health books, “Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever” and “Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever.”

Mr. Kurzweil routinely taps into early memories that explain his lifelong passion for inventing. “My parents gave me all these construction toys, and sometimes I would put things together, and they would do something cool,” he says. “I got the idea that you could change the world for the better with invention — that you could put things together in just the right way, and they would have transcendent effects.

“That was kind of the religion of my family: the power of human ideas.”

A child prodigy, he stunned television audiences in 1965, when he was 17, with a computer he had built that composed music. A couple of years later, in college, he developed a computer program that would seek the best college fit for high school students. A New York publishing house bought the company for $100,000, plus royalties.

“Most of us were going to school to get knowledge and a degree,” says Aaron Kleiner, who studied with Mr. Kurzweil at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and later became his business partner. “He saw school as a tool that let him do what he needed to do.”

Some of Mr. Kurzweil’s better-known inventions include the first print-scanning systems that converted text to speech and allowed the blind to read standard texts, as well as sophisticated electronic keyboards and voice-recognition software. He has made millions selling his inventions, and his companies continue developing other products, like software for securities traders and e-readers for digital publications.

He began his march toward the Singularity around 1980, when he started plotting things like the speed of chips and memory capacity inside computers and realized that some elements of information technology improved at predictable — and exponential — rates.

“With 30 linear steps, you get to 30,” he often says in speeches. “With 30 steps exponentially, you get to one billion. The price-performance of computers has improved one billion times since I was a student. In 25 years, a computer as powerful as today’s smartphones will be the size of a blood cell.”

His fascination with exponential trends eventually led him to construct an elaborate philosophy, illustrated in charts, that provided an analytical backbone for the Singularity and other ideas that had been floating around science-fiction circles for decades.

As far back as the 1950s, John von Neumann, the mathematician, is said to have talked about a “singularity” — an event in which the always-accelerating pace of technology would alter the course of human affairs. And, in 1993, Vernor Vinge, a science fiction writer, computer scientist and math professor, wrote a research paper called “The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era.”

“Within 30 years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence,” Mr. Vinge wrote. “Shortly after, the human era will be ended.”

In “The Singularity Is Near,” Mr. Kurzweil posits that technological progress in this century will be 1,000 times greater than that of the last century. He writes about humans trumping biology by filling their bodies with nanoscale creatures that can repair cells and by allowing their minds to tap into super-intelligent computers.

Mr. Kurzweil writes: “Once nonbiological intelligence gets a foothold in the human brain (this has already started with computerized neural implants), the machine intelligence in our brains will grow exponentially (as it has been doing all along), at least doubling in power each year.

“Ultimately, the entire universe will become saturated with our intelligence,” he continues. “This is the destiny of the universe.”

The underlying premise of the Singularity responds to people’s insecurity about the speed of social and technological change in the computer era. Mr. Kurzweil posits that the computer and the Internet have changed society much faster than electricity, phones or television, and that the next great leap will occur when industries like medicine and energy start moving at the same exponential pace as I.T.

He believes that this latter stage will occur when we learn to manipulate DNA more effectively and arrange atoms and have readily available computers that surpass the human brain.

In 1970, well before the era of nanobot doctors, Mr. Kurzweil’s father, Fredric, died of a heart attack at his home in Queens. Fredric was 58, and Ray was 22. Since then, Mr. Kurzweil has filled a storage space with his father’s effects — photographs, letters, bills and newspaper clippings. In a world where computers and humans merge, Mr. Kurzweil expects that these documents can be combined with memories harvested from his own brain, and then possibly with Fredric’s DNA, to effect a partial resurrection of his father.

By the 2030s, most people will be able to achieve mental immortality by similarly backing up their brains, Mr. Kurzweil predicts, as the Singularity starts to come into full flower.

Despite such optimism, some Singularitarians aren’t all that fond of Mr. Kurzweil.

“I think he’s a genius and has certainly brought a lot of these ideas into the public discourse,” says James J. Hughes, the executive director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, a nonprofit that studies the implications of advancing technology. “But there are plenty of people that say he has hijacked the Singularity term.”

Mr. Kurzweil says that he is simply trying to put analytical clothing on the concept so that people can think more clearly about the future. And regardless of any debate about his intentions, if you’re encountering the Singularity in the business world and elsewhere today, it’s most likely his take.

Bursts of Innovation

Peter H. Diamandis, 49, is a small man with a wide, bright smile and a thick mound of dark hair. He routinely holds meetings by cellphone and can usually be found typing away on his laptop. He went to medical school to make his mother happy but has always dreamed of heading to outer space.

He is also a firm believer in the Singularity and is a technocelebrity in his own right, primarily through his role in commercializing space travel. At a recent Singularity University lunch, he hopped up to make a speech peppered with passion and conviction.

“My target is to live 700 years,” he declared.

The students chuckled.

“I say that seriously,” he retorted.

The NASA site, the Ames Research Center, houses an odd collection of unusual buildings, including a giant wind tunnel, a huge supercomputing center and a flight simulator facility with equipment capable throwing people 60 feet into the air.

Today, the government operates NASA Ames as a bustling, public-sector-meets-private-sector technology bazaar. Start-ups, universities and corporations have set up shop here, and Google plans to build a new campus here over the next few years that will include housing for workers.

A nondescript structure, Building 20, is the Singularity University headquarters, and most students stay in nearby apartments on the NASA land. Mr. Kurzweil set up the school with Mr. Diamandis, who, as chief executive of the X Prize Foundation, doled out $10 million in 2004 to a team that sent a private spacecraft 100 kilometers above the earth. Google has offered $30 million in rewards for an X Prize project intended to inspire a private team to send a robot to the moon. And a $10 million prize will go to the first team that can sequence 100 human genomes in 10 days at a cost of $10,000 or less each — which, in theory, would turn an expensive, complex lab exercise into an ordinary affair.

Mr. Diamandis champions the idea that large prizes inspire rapid bursts of innovation and may pave a path to that 700-year lifetime.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of if,” he says. “I think it’s a matter of how. You and I have a decent shot, and for kids being born today, I think it will be a matter of choice.”

For the most part, Mr. Kurzweil serves as a figurehead of Singularity University, while Mr. Diamandis steers the institution. He pitches the graduate student program as a way to train young, inspired people to think exponentially and solve the world’s biggest problems — to develop projects that will “change the lives of one billion people,” as the in-house mantra goes.

Mr. Diamandis hopes that the university can create an unrivaled network of graduates and bold thinkers — a Harvard Business School for the future — who can put its ideas into action. Along with that goal, he’s considering creating a venture capital fund to help turn the university’s big ideas into big businesses. As some of their favored student creations, school leaders point to a rapid disaster alert-and-response system and a venture that lets individuals rent their cars to other people via cellphone.

Devin Fidler, a former student, is in the midst of securing funding for a company that will build a portable machine that squirts out a cement-like goop that allows builders to erect an entire house, layer by layer. Such technology could almost eliminate labor costs and bring better housing to low-income areas.

Mr. Diamandis has certainly built a selective institution. More than 1,600 people applied for just 40 spots in the inaugural graduate program held last year. A second, 10-week graduate program will kick off this month with 80 students, culled from 1,200 applicants.

One incoming student, David Dalrymple, is an 18-year-old working on his doctorate from M.I.T.. He says he plans to start a research institute someday to explore artificial intelligence, medicine, space systems and energy. (He met Mr. Kurzweil at a White House dinner, and at the age of 8 accepted the offer to have Mr. Kurzweil serve as his mentor.)

During the spring executive program, about 30 people — almost all of them men — showed up for the course, which is something of a mental endurance test. Days begin at dawn with group exercise sessions. Coursework runs until about 9 p.m.; then philosophizing over wine and popcorn goes until midnight or later. A former Google chef prepares special meals — all of which are billed as “life extending” — for the executives.

The meat of the executive program is lectures, company tours and group thought exercises.

Day 4 includes test drives of Tesla Motors electric sports cars and a group genetic test, thanks to a company called deCODEme. By Day 6, people are annoyed by the BrinBot, which is interrupting lectures with its whirs and sputters. Someone tapes a pair of paper ears on it to try to humanize it. One executive sullenly declines to participate in another robot design exercise because no one in his group will consider making a sexbot.

However much the Singularity informs the environment here, a majority of the executives attending the spring course expressed less interest in living forever and more in figuring out their next business venture or where they wanted to invest.

Robin Tedder, a Scottish baron who lives in Australia and divides his time among managing a personal fortune, racing a yacht and running a vineyard, says he read about Singularity University in an investor newsletter and checked out the Web site.

“What really convinced me to pay the 15 grand was that I didn’t think it was some kind of hoax,” Mr. Tedder said in an interview after he completed the executive program. “I looked at the people involved and thought it was the real deal. In retrospect, I think it’s a very good value.”

Like a number of other participants, Mr. Tedder is contemplating business ventures with his classmates and points to high-octane networking as the school’s major benefit.

Attendees at the spring session came from all over the globe and included John Mauldin, a best-selling author who writes an investment newsletter; Stephen Long, a research director at the Defense Department; Fernando A. de la Viesca, C.E.O. of the Argentinean investment firm TPCG Financial; Eitan Eliram, the new-media director for the prime minister’s office in Israel; and Guy Fraker, the director of trends and foresight at State Farm Insurance.

“We end up cleaning up the mess of unintended consequences,” says Mr. Fraker of his company’s work. He says it makes sense for him to gauge technological trends in case humans can one day gain new tools for averting catastrophes. For example, he’s confident that in the future people will have the ability to steer hurricanes away from populated areas.

Executives in the spring program also heard that some young people had started leaving college to set up their own synthetic biology labs on the cheap. Such people resemble computer tinkerers from a generation earlier, attendees note, except now they’re fiddling with the genetic code of organisms rather than software.

“Biology is moving outside of the traditional education sphere,” says Andrew Hessel, a former research operations manager at Amgen, during a lecture here. “The students are teaching their professors. This is happening faster than the computer evolved. These students don’t have newsletters. They have Web sites.”

Daniel T. Barry, a Singularity University professor, gives a lecture about the falling cost of robotics technology and how these types of systems are close to entering the home. Dr. Barry, a former astronaut and “Survivor” contestant with an M.D. and a Ph. D., has put his ideas into action. He has a robot at home that can take a pizza from the delivery person, pay for it and carry it into the kitchen.

“You have the robot say, ‘Take the 20 and leave the pizza on top of me,’ ” Dr. Barry says. “I get the pizza about a third of the time.”

Other lecturers talk about a coming onslaught of biomedical advances as thousands of people have their genomes decoded. Jason Bobe, who works on the Personal Genome Project, an effort backed by the Harvard Medical School to establish a huge database of genetic information, points to forecasts that a million people will have their genomes decoded by 2014.

“The machines for doing this will be in your kitchen next to the toaster,” Mr. Bobe says.

Mr. Hessel describes an even more dramatic future in which people create hybrid pets based on the body parts of different animals and tweak the genetic makeup of plants so they resemble things like chairs and tables, allowing us to grow fields of everyday objects for home and work. Mr. Hessel, like Mr. Kurzweil, thinks that people will use genetic engineering techniques to grow meat in factories rather than harvesting it from dead animals.

“I know in 10 years it will be a junior-high project to build a bacteria,” says Mr. Hessel. “This is what happens when we get control over the code of life. We are just on the cusp of that.”

Christopher deCharms, another Singularity University speaker, runs Omneuron, a start-up in Menlo Park, Calif., that pushes the limits of brain imaging technology. He’s trying to pull information out of the brain via sensing systems, so that there can be some quantification of people’s levels of depression and pain.

“We are at the forefront today of being able to read out real information from the human brain of single individuals,” he tells the executives.

Preparing to Evolve

Richard A. Clarke, former head of counterterrorism at the National Security Council, has followed Mr. Kurzweil’s work and written a science-fiction thriller, “Breakpoint,” in which a group of terrorists try to halt the advance of technology. He sees major conflicts coming as the government and citizens try to wrap their heads around technology that’s just beginning to appear.

“There are enormous social and political issues that will arise,” Mr. Clarke says. “There are vast groups of people in society who believe the earth is 5,000 years old. If they want to slow down progress and prevent the world from changing around them and they engaged in political action or violence, then there will have to be some sort of decision point.”

Mr. Clarke says the government has a contingency plan for just about everything — including an attack by Canada — but has yet to think through the implications of techno-philosophies like the Singularity. (If it’s any consolation, Mr. Long of the Defense Department asked a flood of questions while attending Singularity University.)

Mr. Kurzweil himself acknowledges the possibility of grim outcomes from rapidly advancing technology but prefers to think positively. “Technological evolution is a continuation of biological evolution,” he says. “That is very much a natural process.”

To prepare for any rocky transitions from our benighted present to the techno-utopia of 2030 or so, a number of people tied to the Singularity movement have begun to build what they call “an education and protection framework.”

Among them is Keith Kleiner, who joined Google in its early days and walked away as a wealthy man in 2005. During a period of personal reflection after his departure, he read “The Singularity Is Near.” He admires Mr. Kurzweil’s vision.

“What he taught me was ‘Wake up, man,’ ” Mr. Kleiner says. “Yeah, computers will get faster so you can do more things and store more data, but it’s bigger than that. It starts to permeate every industry.”

Mr. Kleiner, 32, founded a Web site, SingularityHub.com, with a writing staff that reports on radical advances in technology. He has also given $100,000 to Singularity University.

Sonia Arrison, a founder of Singularity University and the wife of one of Google’s first employees, spends her days writing a book about longevity, tentatively titled “100 Plus.” It outlines changes that people can expect as life expectancies increase, like 20-year marriages with sunset clauses.

She says the book and the university are her attempts to ready people for the inevitable.

“One day we will wake up and say, ‘Wow, we can regenerate a new liver,’ ” Ms. Arrison says. “It will happen so fast, and the role of Singularity University is to prepare people in advance.”

Despite all of the zeal behind the movement, there are those who look askance at its promises and prospects.

Jonathan Huebner, for example, is often held up as Mr. Kurzweil’s foil. A physicist who works at the Naval Air Warfare Center as a weapons designer, he, like Mr. Kurzweil, has compiled his own cathedral of graphs and lists of important inventions. He is unimpressed with the state of progress and, in 2005, published in a scientific journal a paper called “A Possible Declining Trend for Worldwide Innovation.”

Measuring the number of innovations divided by the size of the worldwide population, Dr. Huebner contends that the rate of innovation peaked in 1873. Or, based on the number of patents in the United States weighed against the population, he found a peak around 1916. (Both Dr. Huebner and Mr. Kurzweil are occasionally teased about their faith in graphs.)

“The amount of advance in this century will not compare well at all to the last century,” Dr. Huebner says, before criticizing tenets of the Singularity. “I don’t believe that something like artificial intelligence as they describe it will ever appear.”

William S. Bainbridge, who has spent the last two decades evaluating grant proposals for the National Science Foundation, also sides with the skeptics.

“We are not seeing exponential results from the exponential gains in computing power,” he says. “I think we are at a time where progress will be increasingly difficult in many fields.

“We should not base ideas of the world on simplistic extrapolations of what has happened in the past,” he adds.

‘Deus ex Machina’

Last month, a biotech concern, Synthetic Genomics, announced that it had created a bacterial genome from scratch, kicking off a firestorm of discussion about the development of artificial life. J. Craig Venter, a pioneer in the human genome trade and head of Synthetic Genomics, hailed his company’s work as “the first self-replicating species we’ve had on the planet whose parent is a computer.”

Steve Jurvetson, a director of Synthetic Genomics, is part of a group of very rich, very bright Singularity observers who end up somewhere in the middle on the philosophy’s merits — optimistic about the growing powers of technology but pessimistic about humankind’s ability to reach a point where those forces can actually be harnessed.

Mr. Jurvetson, a venture capitalist and managing director of the firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, says the advances of companies like Synthetic Genomics give him confidence that we will witness great progress in areas like biofuels and vaccines. Still, he fears that such technology could also be used maliciously — and he has a pantry filled with products like Spam and honey in case his family has to hunker down during a viral outbreak or attack.

“Thank God we have a swimming pool,” he says, noting that it gives him a large store of potentially potable water.

Mr. Orlowski, the journalist, sees the Singularity as a grand, tech-nerd dream in which engineers, inventors and innovators of every stripe create the greatest of all reset buttons. He says the techies “seem to want a deus ex machina to make everything right again.”

They certainly don’t want any outside interference, and are utterly confident that they will realize the Singularity on their own terms and with their own wits — all of which fits with Silicon Valley’s strong libertarian traditions. Google and Microsoft employees trailed only members of the military as the largest individual contributors to Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign.

The Valley’s wizards also prefer to avoid any confrontation with Washington.

“Dealing with politics means having to compromise and convince people of things and form alliances with people who don’t always agree with you,” Mr. Orlowski says. “They’re not wired for that.”

Increasing Acceptance

Mr. Kurzweil is currently consulting for the Army on technology initiatives, and says he routinely talks with government and business leaders. Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, appears in Mr. Kurzweil’s books and often on the back flaps with celebratory quotations.

Mr. Kurzweil and Mr. Page of Google created a renewable-energy plan for the National Academy of Engineering, advising that solar power will one day soon meet all of the world’s energy needs.

Mr. Kurzweil’s 31-year-old son, Ethan, says his father has always been ahead of the curve. The family had the first flat-screen television and car phone on the block, as well as a phone that could fax photos.

“We also had this thing where you put on a hat that had sensors and it would create music to match your brain waves and help you meditate,” Ethan says. “People would come over and play with it.”

Ethan previously worked for Linden Lab, the company behind the virtual world Second Life. These days he’s a venture capitalist at Bessemer Venture Partners. A section of the bookshelves in his office has been reserved for multiple copies of his father’s works.

“A lot of what he has predicted has happened, and it’s interesting to see what he’s been saying become more mainstream,” says Ethan, who looks very much like a younger version of his father. “He has a certain world view that he feels strongly about that he thinks is absolutely coming to pass. The data so far suggests it is. He’s incredibly thorough with his research, and I have confidence his critics haven’t thought things through on the same level.”

Indeed, Ethan says, his father is almost, well, accepted.

“He is seen as less weird now,” he says. “Much less weird.”

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This monster sized parody video has a much larger story: a story so large what else could top it? When machine intelligence surpasses humans and embraces its own power as a ‘living’ god what event in history is a bigger story?

Google’s model from the ground up is in building what they call “the mind of god”, and in this pursuit they’re connected to the government and military to the core.

The Google Boys truly are brilliant, as they’ve designed their system and all of their products to make the system smarter every time all of their users use them. Meaning, every time you use their ‘free’ services, you help bring their “mind of god” scenario closer to reality.

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Google AdSense Mistakes that Can Kill Your Campaign

Google’s Wi-Fi snoop nabbed passwords and emails

Medvedev to meet Google’s  Schmidt on US trip

Ford steering Google  Maps into its cars

Google keeps mum on new regulations for online mapping in China

GM revving up Google  Maps for OnStar customers

Why Google News Items Are Disappearing From Its News Database?

Google CEO sees one small acquisition a month

Google Spent $1.3 Million on Lobbying, What Are They Buying?

Google’s Washington Influence Is Spreading, Some Say Too Much

Issa wants answers on White House’s Google ties

Google WiSpying Hit Congress; National Security Data Could Have Been Gathered

Google’s influence grows in the W.H.

Twitter hires Obama administration’s Katie Stanton

Google Buys U.K. Start-Up Plink, a Shazam for Art

Google Goggles

Google using search engine to muscle into Internet businesses, study finds

Financial Times examines Google’s ’secret formula’

Expedia is worried about Google/ITA deal

Google gets a slap on the wrist for violating Australian privacy law

Double Trouble for Google

Google exec tries hard sell on cloud computing

Google finds itself on the defensive in China

Top trustbuster says DOJ watching search industry

Will Google’s Newspass save serious journalism?

House Oversight chair questions federal cloud strategy

Standing up to Google’s heavy-handed pressure

Where you Point Your Mouse May Influence Google Search Rankings, Advertisement Placement, and Oneboxes

Don’t Look Now, but Google’s Following You

Google commands largest audience in APAC: Comscore

Google Could Have Collected WiFi Data From Members Of Congress

Google’s Eric Schmidt: You can trust us with your data

Facial Recognition Software, for Everyone

Why Google Employees Quit

Obama & Google (a love story)

Google to Pay Homosexual Staff More than Heterosexual Employees

Tech Titans’ Ties to Washington Grow Closer — and More Complicated

More on Google lobbying and influence

Google Deliberately Stole Data, Says Australia

Google Bans DVD Critical Of Obama Administration

Apple and Google backed Obama to the hilt

Google registered a political action committee.

11th suicide at Apple factory

Another employee of Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn fell to his death yesterday at the company’s plant in southern China — the 11th such death this year, state media reported.

The apparent suicides have raised questions about the conditions for millions of factory workers in China, especially at Apple manufacturer Foxconn, where labour activists say long hours, low pay and high pressure are the norm.

The official Xinhua news agency provided no further details on the latest death, which came just hours after the firm reportedly urged its workers in southern China to promise in writing not to kill themselves as it battles to stem a spate of factory suicides. …

Nets were put on buildings to stop people from jumping, and about 100 mental health counsellors were being trained. …

The walled-in industrial park employs 300,000 workers and looks more like a small city with fast-food restaurants, bakeries, Bank of China branches and towering dormitories for workers.

Foxconn was trying to address allegations from labour groups that the workers were killing themselves because of hellish conditions in the factories, which churn out iPhones, Dell computers, (Hewlet Packard products), Nokia mobile phones and many other big-selling electronics.

Critics allege that Foxconn manages its plants with a strict military approach and workers must work too much overtime on assembly lines that move too fast.

===============================

CNN:

Palo Alto, California (CNN) — In the 1990s, a researcher named Kris Pister dreamed up a wild future in which people would sprinkle the Earth with countless tiny sensors, no larger than grains of rice.

These “smart dust” particles, as he called them, would monitor everything, acting like electronic nerve endings for the planet. Fitted with computing power, sensing equipment, wireless radios and long battery life, the smart dust would make observations and relay mountains of real-time data about people, cities and the natural environment.

Now, a version of Pister’s smart dust fantasy is starting to become reality.

FULL STORY

HP:

The astronomer Carl Sagan once asked, “Who speaks for Earth?” Soon, the Earth may speak for itself.

That’s the goal of HP Labs Central Nervous System for the Earth, or CeNSE. The research and development program aims to build a planetwide sensing network using billions of tiny, cheap, tough and exquisitely sensitive detectors.

“We’re surrounded by technological assets that are deaf, blind, can’t taste, can’t smell and can’t feel,” says Stan Williams, an HP senior fellow who leads the Information and Quantum Systems Lab (IQSL). “CeNSE is all about giving all this compute power the awareness of what’s going on in the environment around it,” says Peter Hartwell, senior researcher and project team lead.

Hartwell envisions sensing nodes about the size of a pushpin stuck to bridges and buildings to warn of structural strains or weather conditions. They might be scattered along roadsides to monitor traffic, weather and road conditions. Embedded in everyday electronics, CeNSE nodes might track hospital equipment, sniff out pesticides and pathogens in food, or even “recognize” the person using them and adapt.

Taken together, that awareness could “revolutionize human interaction with the Earth as profoundly as the Internet has revolutionized personal and business interactions today,” Williams predicts.

For CeNSE to work, “we have to make sensors that are vastly more sensitive than anything else that have ever existed before, while being absolutely dirt cheap so that we can deploy them in very large numbers,” Williams says.

Hartwell is working on the first sensor to go into the field, a motion and vibration detector. More accurately called an accelerometer, Hartwell’s device is sensitive enough to “feel” a heartbeat. The source of that sensitivity is a 5mm-square, three-layer silicon chip. A portion of the center wafer is suspended between the two outer wafers by flexible silicon beams. When the chip moves, the suspended center lags behind due to its inertia. A measurement of that relative motion is used to calculate the speed, direction and distance the chip has moved.

This exquisitely sensitive accelerometer can detect a 10 femtometer change in the position of its center chip. That’s less than one-billionth the width of a human hair. As a result, it can measure changes to acceleration in the micro-gravity range. That’s about 1,000 times more sensitive than accelerometers used in a Wii, an iPhone or an automobile’s airbag system.

IQSL Lab researchers also plan to add sensors for light, temperature, barometric pressure, airflow and humidity.

While Hartwell’s accelerometer gives CeNSE its “feel,” the system’s “taste and smell” are just around the corner. Researchers in the group are using nanomaterials to boost a standard chemical and biological detection technology (Raman spectroscopy) to 100 million times its usual sensitivity rates. As sensitivity rises, sensor size can shrink. That could lead to detectors small enough to clip onto a mobile telephone. With a wave over produce, the sensor might warn consumers of salmonella on spinach leaves or pesticides present in “organic” produce, Hartwell says.

Strength in numbers

Today, sensitive detectors are expensive. The few out there tend to return a lot of false alarms. Deploying sensors en masse helps sort out background noise and hone in on significant trends.

Monitoring a bridge like the San Francisco Golden Gate might take 10,000 nodes, says Hartwell. Figure a million or so for a big business application, such as cargo shipping. To enervate the Earth, about a trillion should do the trick. At that rate, sensor nodes must cost next to nothing, yet measure everything.

“The sensor node is a challenging integration problem,” says Hartwell. “You have to put the sensor chip with a radio and a battery and a solar cell in a package that’s inexpensive, yet rugged enough to throw by the side of the road,” he says. As it happens, HP already manufactures hundreds of millions of similarly sophisticated, yet rugged and inexpensive devices today: inkjet printer cartridges.

That experience can be applied to CeNSE nodes: “In both cases you have a complex chip that must be exposed to the environment—to measure it or to squirt ink onto it—and packaged into a integrated unit,” says Hartwell

HP Lab’s memristor technology will also play a key role in getting that integrated sensor node into a tiny package: “The memristor is about doing memory and logic in a technology that’s so small and so low power that a pushpin-sized sensor starts looking like something you can really build,” he says.

Massive data

Sensor nodes, however, are only part of the challenge of CeNSE.

“How do you capture and use all that data?” asks Hartwell. At a typical data rate, one million sensors running 24 hours a day would require 50 hard disks running in parallel to capture the 20 petabytes of data created in just six months. “The amount of data we’re talking about here is ferocious,” says Williams.

Then it has to be crunched to extract meaningful information. No matter how many gigabytes of data a smart highway might deliver, for example, “you’re only interested in one bit when you walk out that door,” says Hartwell. “Just one bit: Which interstate highway will take you home fastest? If it saves you 20 minutes on your commute, that one bit is worth a lot,” he points out.

HP is approaching sensing networks not just as sensing or moving data or crunching it, but from a holistic perspective, says Hartwell. “We have the networking expertise in our ProCurve division, we have consulting and integration through our Enterprise Services division (formerly EDS),” not to mention business intelligence, storage and data center technologies. Williams agrees: “We’re the only company approaching this from soup to nuts.”

Listening to Earth

CeNSE’s first applications will make living on the planet safer and more convenient. But as the network grows, the breadth and detail of information it gathers could be critical to Earth’s survival, says Hartwell.

“If we’re going to save the planet, we’ve got to monitor it,” says Hartwell. “We have to understand how we’re impacting the planet,” he says, pointing out that we don’t understand how wind farms may affect rainfall or how a cooling sea changes wind currents. Hartwell imagines people volunteering their sensors to feed data to climate change models, just as unused compute cycles are unfolding proteins and unraveling genomes today.

On an individual level, sensing could help people make everyday lifestyle changes: “We have to use this capability to figure out how to change the way we do things: You can tell the kids to turn off the lights, but it’s going to be a lot more effective if the lights turn themselves off.”

SEE ALSO:

*DARPA & IBM building a “global brain” “cognitive computer” for “monitoring people” and the “world”.

-NASA’s “Planetary Skin” ‘global nervous system’.

Google’s A.I. quest to become God-On-Earth.

Xeni Jardin
Boing Boing
Thursday, February 25th, 2010

John Young and Deborah Natsios’ whistleblower archive Cryptome has long been a thorn in the flesh of US government agencies. But if my memory serves correctly, none of them ever managed to do what Microsoft did today: shut the site down.

Network Solutions shut off the lights in response to a DMCA notice, after Cryptome published a 22-page Microsoft document outlining how the company stores private user data in its web-connected servers. The document also explains how government agencies can access that personal data.

More at Wired News, and you can download the disputed PDF here. More at ReadWriteWeb, with comments from the EFF.

I found this article in a text book I own titled “TAKING SIDES: Clashing views on Controversial Environmental Issues (Tenth Edition”), which is curriculum at the University of South Florida. The article itself was written in 1999, the textbook in 2003. I added the helpful links in.

By Stephen Moore. Mr. Moore is a director at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

At a Washington reception, the conversation turned to the merits of small families. One woman volunteered that she had just read Bill McKibben‘s environmental tome, Maybe One, on the benefits of single-child families.

She claimed to have found it “ethically compelling.” I chimed in: “Even one child may put too much stress on our fragile ecosystem. McKibben says ‘maybe one.’ I say, why not none?” The response was solemn nods of agreement, and even some guilt-ridden whispers between husbands and wives.

McKibben’s acclaimed book is a tribute to the theories of British economist Thomas Malthus. Exactly 200 years ago, Malthus-the original dismal scientist-wrote that “the power of population is . . . greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man.” McKibben’s application of this idea was to rush out and have a vasectomy. He urges his fellow greens to do the same-to make single-child families the “cultural norm” in America.

Now, with the United Nations proclaiming that this month we will surpass the demographic milestone of 6 billion people, the environmental movement and the media can be expected to ask: Do we really need so many people? A recent AP headline lamented: “Century’s growth leaves Earth crowded-and noisy.” Seemingly, Malthus has never had so many apostles.

In a rational world, Malthusianism would not be in a state of intellectual revival, but thorough disrepute. After all, virtually every objective trend is running in precisely the opposite direction of what the widely acclaimed Malthusians of the 1960s-from Lester Brown to Paul Ehrlich to the Club of Rome-predicted. Birth rates around the world are lower today than at any time in recorded history. Global per capita food production is much higher than ever before. The “energy crisis” is now such a distant memory that oil is virtually the cheapest liquid on earth. These facts, collectively, have wrecked the credibility of the population-bomb propagandists.

Yet the population-control movement is gaining steam. It has won the hearts and wallets of some of the most influential leaders inside and outside government today. Malthusianism has evolved into a multi-billion-dollar industry and a political juggernaut.

Today, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID), the State Department, and the World Bank, the federal government pumps some 350 million tax dollars a year into population-containment activities. The Clinton administration would be spending at least twice that amount if not for the efforts of two Republican congressmen, Chris Smith of New Jersey and Todd Tiahrt of Kansas, who have managed to cut off funding for the most coercive birth-reduction initiatives.

Defenders of the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) and other such agencies insist that these programs “protect women’s reproductive freedom,” “promote the health of mothers,” and “reduce infant mortality.” Opponents of international “family planning,” particularly Catholic organizations, are tarred as anti-abortion fanatics who want to deprive poor women of safe and cheap contraception. A 1998 newspaper ad by Planned Parenthood, entitled “The Right Wing Coup in Family Planning,” urged continued USAID funding by proclaiming: “The very survival of women and children is at stake in this battle.” Such rhetoric is truly Orwellian, given that the entire objective of government-sponsored birth-control programs has been to invade couples’ “reproductive rights” in order to limit family size. The crusaders have believed, from the very outset, that coercion is necessary in order to restrain fertility and avert global eco-collapse.

The consequences of this crusade are morally atrocious. Consider the one-child policy in China. Some 10 million to 20 million Chinese girls are demographically “missing” today because of “sex-selective abortion of female fetuses, female infant mortality (through infanticide or abandonment), and

selective neglect of girls ages 1 to 4,” according to a 1996 U.S. Census Bureau report. Girls account for over 90 percent of the inmates of Chinese orphanages-where children are left to die from neglect.

Last year, Congress heard testimony from Gao Xiao Duan, a former Chinese administrator of the one-couple, one-child policy. Gao testified that if a woman in rural China is discovered to be pregnant without a state-issued “birth-allowed certificate,” she typically must undergo an abortion-no matter how many months pregnant she is. Gao recalled, “Once I found a woman who was nine months’ pregnant but did not have a birth-allowed certificate.

According to the policy, she was forced to undergo an abortion surgery. In the operating room, I saw how the aborted child’s lips were sucking, how its limbs were stretching. A physician injected poison into its skull, and the child died and was thrown into the trash can.”

The pro-choice movement is notably silent about this invasion of women’s “reproductive rights.” In 1989, Molly Yard, of the National Organization for Women, actually praised China’s program as “among the most intelligent in the world.” Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich, the godfather of today’s neo-Malthusian movement, once trumpeted China’s population control as “remarkably vigorous and effective.” He has congratulated Chinese rulers for their “grand experiment in the management of population.”

Last summer, Lisa McRee of Good Morning America started an interview with Bill McKibben by asking, in all seriousness, “Is China’s one-child policy a good idea for every country?” She might as well have asked whether every country should have gulags.

Gregg Easterbrook, writing in the Nov. 23, 1998 New Republic, correctly lambasted China for its “horrifying record on forced abortion and sterilization.” But even the usually sensible Easterbrook offered up a limp apology for the one-child policy, writing that “China, which is almost out of arable land, had little choice but to attempt some degree of fertility constraint.” Hong Kong has virtually no arable land, and 75 times the population density of mainland China, but has one of the best-fed populations in the world.

These coercive practices are spreading to other countries. Brian Clowes writes in the Yale Journal of Ethics that coercion has been used to promote family planning in at least 35 developing countries. Peru has started to use sterilization as a means of family planning, and doctors have to meet sterilization quotas or risk losing their jobs. The same is true in Mexico.

In disease-ridden African countries such as Nigeria and Kenya, hospitals often lack even the most rudimentary medical care, but are stocked to the rafters with boxes of contraceptives stamped “UNFPA” and “USAID.” UNFPA boasts that, thanks to its shipments, more than 80 percent of the women in Haiti have access to contraceptives; this is apparently a higher priority than providing access to clean water, which is still unavailable to more than half of the Haitian population.

Population-control groups like Zero Population Growth and International Planned Parenthood have teamed up with pro-choice women in Congress-led by Carolyn Maloney of New York, Cynthia McKinney of Georgia, and Connie Morella of Maryland-to try to secure $60 million in U.S. funding for UNFPA over the next two years. Maloney pledges, “I’m going to do whatever it takes to restore funding for [UNFPA]” this year.

Support for this initiative is based on two misconceptions. The first is the excessively optimistic view that (in the words of a Chicago Tribune report) “one child zealotry in China is fading.” The Population Research Institute’s Steve Mosher, an authority on Chinese population activities, retorts, “This fantasy that things are getting better in China has been the constant refrain of the one-child apologists for at least the past twenty years.” In fact, after UNFPA announced in 1997 that it was going back into China, state councillor Peng Peiyun defiantly announced, “China will not slacken our family-planning policy in the next century.”

The second myth is that UNFPA has always been part of the solution, and has tried to end China’s one-child policy. We are told that it is pushing Beijing toward more “female friendly” family planning. This, too, is false.

UNFPA has actually given an award to China for its effectiveness in population-control activities-activities far from female-friendly. Worse, UNFPA’s executive director, Nafis Sadik, is, like her predecessors, a longtime apologist for the China program and even denies that it is coercive. She is on record as saying-falsely-that “the implementation of the policy is purely voluntary. There is no such thing as a license to have a birth.”

Despite UNFPA’s track record, don’t be surprised if Congress winds up re-funding it. The past 20 years may have demonstrated the intellectual bankruptcy of the population controllers, but their coffers have never been more flush.

American billionaires, past and present, have devoted large parts of their fortunes to population control. The modern-day population-control movement dates to 1952, when John D. Rockefeller returned from a trip to Asia convinced that the teeming masses he saw there were the single greatest threat to the earth’s survival. He proceeded to divert hundreds of millions of dollars from his foundation to the goal of population stabilization. He was followed by David Packard (co-founder of Hewlett-Packard), who created a $9 billion foundation whose top priority was reducing world population.

Today, these foundations are joined by organizations ranging from Zero Population Growth (ZPG) to Negative Population Growth (which advocates an optimal U.S. population size of 150 million-120 million fewer than now) to Planned Parenthood to the Sierra Club. The combined budget of these groups approaches $1 billion.

These organizations tend to be extremist. Take ZPG. Its board of directors passed a resolution declaring that “parenthood is not an inherent right but a privilege” granted by the state, and that “every American family has a right to no more than two children.”

“Population growth is analogous to a plague of locusts,” says Ted Turner, a major source of population-movement funding. “What we have on this earth today is a plague of people. Nature did not intend for there to be as many people as there are.” Turner has also penned “The Ted Commandments,” which include “a promise to have no more than two children or no more than my nation suggests.” He recently reconsidered his manifesto, and now believes that the voluntary limit should be even lower-just one child. In Turner’s utopia, there are no brothers, sisters, aunts, or uncles.

Turner’s $1 billion donation to the U.N. is a pittance compared with the fortunes that Warren Buffett (net worth $36 billion) and Bill Gates (net worth roughly $100 billion) may bestow on the cause of population control.

Buffett has announced repeatedly that he views overpopulation as one of the greatest crises in the world today. Earlier this year, Gates and his wife contributed an estimated $7 billion to their foundation, of which the funding of population programs is one of five major initiatives.

This is a massive misallocation of funds, for the simple reason that the overpopulation crisis is a hoax. It is true that world population has tripled over the last century. But the explanation is both simple and benign: First, life expectancy-possibly the best overall numerical measure of human well-being-has almost doubled in the last 100 years, and the years we are tacking on to life are both more active and more productive. Second, people are wealthier-they can afford better health care, better diets, and a cleaner environment. As a result, infant-mortality rates have declined nearly tenfold in this century. As the late Julian Simon often explained, population growth is a sign of mankind’s greatest triumph-our gains against death.

We are told that this good news is really bad news, because human numbers are soon going to bump up against the planet’s “carrying capacity.”

Pessimists worry that man is procreating as uncontrollably as John B.

Calhoun’s famous Norwegian rats, which multiply until they die off from lack of sustenance. Bill McKibben warns that “we are adding another New York City every month, a Mexico every year, and almost another India every decade.”

But a closer look shows that these fears are unfounded. Fact: If every one of the 6 billion of us resided in Texas, there would be room enough for every family of four to have a house and one-eighth of an acre of land-the rest of the globe would be vacant. (True, if population growth continued, some of these people would eventually spill over into Oklahoma.) In short, the population bomb has been defused. The birth rate in developing countries has plummeted from just over 6 children per couple in 1950 to just over 3 today. The major explanation for smaller family sizes, even in China, has been economic growth. The Reaganites were right on the mark when, in 1984, they proclaimed this truth to a distraught U.N. delegation in Mexico City. (The policy they enunciated has been memorably expressed in the phrase “capitalism is by far the best contraceptive.”) The fertility rate in the developed world has fallen from 3.3 per couple in 1950 to 1.6 today. These low fertility rates presage declining populations.

If, for example, Japan’s birth rate is not raised at some point, in 500 years there will be only about 15 Japanese left on the planet.

Other Malthusian worries are similarly wrongheaded. Global food prices have fallen by half since 1950, even as world population has doubled. The dean of agricultural economists, D. Gale Johnson of the University of Chicago, has documented “a dramatic decline in famines” in the last 50 years. Fewer than half as many people die of famine each year now than did a century ago-despite a near-quadrupling of the population. Enough food is now grown in the world to provide every resident of the planet with almost four pounds of food a day. In each of the past three years, global food production has reached new heights.

Overeating is fast becoming the globe’s primary dietary malady. “It’s amazing to say, but our problem is becoming overnutrition,” Ho Zhiqiuan, a Chinese nutrition expert, recently told National Geographic. “Today in China obesity is becoming common.”

Millions are still hungry, and famines continue to occur-but these are the result of government policies or political malice, not inadequate global food production. As the International Red Cross has reported, “the loss of access to food resources [during famines] is generally the result of intentional acts” by governments.

Even if the apocalyptic types are correct and population grows to 12 billion in the 21st century, so what? Assuming that human progress and scientific advancement continue as they have, and assuming that the global march toward capitalism is not reversed, those 12 billion people will undoubtedly be richer, healthier, and better fed than the 6 billion of us alive today. After all, we 6 billion are much richer, healthier, and better fed than the 1 billion who lived in 1800 or the 2 billion alive in 1920.

The greatest threat to the planet is not too many people, but too much statism. The Communists, after all, were the greatest polluters in history.

Economist Mikhail Bernstam has discovered that market-based economies are about two to three times more energy-efficient than Communist, socialist, Maoist, or “Third Way” economies. Capitalist South Korea has three times the population density of socialist North Korea, but South Koreans are well fed while 250,000 North Koreans have starved to death in the last decade.

Government-funded population programs are actually counterproductive, because they legitimize command-and-control decision-making. As the great development economist Alan Rufus Waters puts it, “Foreign aid used for population activities gives enormous resources and control apparatus to the local administrative elite and thus sustains the authoritarian attitudes corrosive to the development process.”

This approach usually ends up making poor people poorer, because it distracts developing nations from their most pressing task, which is market reform. When Mao’s China established central planning and communal ownership of agriculture, tens of millions of Chinese peasants starved to death. In 1980, after private ownership was established, China’s agricultural output doubled in just ten years. If Chinese leaders over the past 30 years had concentrated on rapid privatization and market reform, it’s quite possible that economic development would have decreased birth rates every bit as rapidly as the one-child policy.

The problem with trying to win this debate with logic and an arsenal of facts is that modern Malthusianism is not a scientific theory at all. It’s a religion, in which the assertion that mankind is overbreeding is accepted as an article of faith. I recently participated in a debate before an anti-population group called Carrying Capacity Network, at which one scholar informed me that man’s presence on the earth is destructive because Homo sapiens is the only species without a natural predator. It’s hard to argue with somebody who despairs because mankind is alone at the top of the food chain.

At its core, the population-control ethic is an assault on the principle that every human life has intrinsic value. Malthusian activists tend to view human beings neither as endowed with intrinsic value, nor even as resources, but primarily as consumers of resources. No wonder that at last year’s ZPG conference, the Catholic Church was routinely disparaged as “our enemy” and “the evil empire.”

The movement also poses a serious threat to freedom. Decisions on whether to have children-and how many-are among are the most private of all human choices. If governments are allowed to control human reproduction, virtually no rights of the individual will remain inviolable by the state.

The consequence, as we have seen in China, is the debasement of human dignity on a grand scale.

Another (true) scene from a party: A radiant pregnant woman is asked whether this is her first child. She says, no, in fact, it is her sixth.

Yuppies gasp, as if she has admitted that she has leprosy. To have three kids-to be above replacement level-is regarded by many as an act of eco-terrorism.

But the good news for this pregnant woman, and the millions of others who want to have lots of kids, is that the Malthusians are simply wrong. There is no moral, economic, or environmental case for small families. Period.

If some choose to subscribe to a voluntary one-child policy, so be it. But the rest of us-Americans, Chinese, and everybody else-don’t need or want Ted Turner or the United Nations to tell us how many kids to have. Congress should not be expanding “international family planning” funding, but terminating it.

Congress may want to consider a little-known footnote of history. In time, Thomas Malthus realized that his dismal population theories were wrong. He awoke to the reality that human beings are not like Norwegian rats at all.

Why? Because, he said, man is “impelled” by “reason” to solve problems, and not to “bring beings into the world for whom he cannot provide the means of support.” Amazingly, 200 years later, his disciples have yet to grasp this lesson.

COPYRIGHT 1999 National Review, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group